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Facebook drops Trump ads after Pelosi cites census confusion

Facebook on Thursday began taking down ads for the reelection campaign of President Donald Trump that direct people to a survey labeled a “census,” hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said people would confuse it with the once-a-decade head count.

Facebook said in a statement that it was enforcing its policies to prevent confusion over the 2020 census, which begins next week for most people.

“There are policies in place to prevent confusion around the official U.S. Census and this is an example of those being enforced,” the Facebook statement said.

Earlier in the day, Pelosi had called the survey sponsored by the Trump reelection campaign, “an absolute lie.”

“A lie that is consistent with the misrepresentation policy of Facebook,” Pelosi said. “But now they’re messing with who we are as Americans. I know the profit motive is their business model, but it should not come at the cost of counting who is in our country.”

The ad says, “President Trump needs you to take the Official 2020 Congressional District Census today.” Clicking on a red button saying “Take the Survey” leads to a website with questions asking visitors about party affiliation, whether they intend to support Trump and which media organizations they get their information, among other questions.

Similar mailings have been distributed around the U.S.

On Thursday, four Democratic House members — Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, Gerry Connolly of Virginia, and Katie Porter of California — demanded in a letter that the Republican National Committee stop any mailings or online ads that resemble Census Bureau documents.

In a statement, the Republican National Committee said it would add language to future mailings, making it clear what it is.

“This is a standard direct mail piece that has been utilized for decades. These mailers are fully compliant with the law, clearly marked as a fundraising solicitation from the Republican National Committee, and in no way resemble the official government census,” the RNC statement said.

Census Bureau officials have been on high alert for online misinformation aimed at confusing people about who is eligible to fill out the form or how to properly file it, along with imitation websites posing as the official census site.

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